By Albert Kuan
Singapore Airlines Suspends Flights To Los Angeles
Singapore Airlines will be suspending operations from Los Angeles to Taipei, Taiwan beginning mid-February — the end of the airline’s winter schedule. According to sources close to the airline, the last flight from Los Angeles to Taipei, Taiwan’s Taoyuan Airport, SQ 35, will operate on Feb. 16.
Singapore Airlines Singapore to Los Angeles flight via Taipei, Taiwan currently operates three times a week, flying eastbound on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Flights operate westbound on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Due to Taiwan’s ongoing transit ban due to Covid-19, the fifth freedom flight exclusively carries travelers between Singapore and Taipei or between Taipei and Los Angeles and doesn’t carry people between Singapore and Los Angeles.
All flights operating to Taiwan can only carry single-sector travelers with this ongoing ban. Singapore Airlines, however, does fly daily non-stop to Singapore from Los Angeles using its three-cabin Airbus A350-900 in a 3-class configuration, including economy class.
The airline’s Los Angeles to Taipei, Taiwan service has operated for less than 6 months since the service’s reinstatement earlier this year on Aug. 25.
Seeking to capitalize on passenger and cargo demand outside its home base, Singapore Airlines reinstated flights between Los Angeles to Taipei, Taiwan last summer after a 13-year hiatus. The airline’s fifth freedom route was relaunched due to the strong demand for travel to the United States from Taiwan for vaccination tourism at that time. The only other dominant carriers flying non-stop between the United States and Taiwan are Taiwan’s China Airlines and EVA Air. Taiwan’s new Starlux Airlines is expected to launch service to Los Angeles in 2023.
Since the U.S. federal government’s stricter travel requirements for vaccination and pre-flight testing for non-citizens traveling to the United States were enacted in November, passenger numbers from Taiwan have plunged significantly. Furthermore, all Taiwan-bound travelers, including those that are vaccinated, are still required to quarantine for 14 days on arrival, a rule that has been in effect since the start of the pandemic.
Taiwan still does not allow foreigners to enter the country without special permission or residency and is quarantining for 14 days everyone arriving, including those that are vaccinated. Taiwan travelers can either exercise quarantine for 14 days in a government-approved hotel, or for those that are vaccinated, quarantine for seven days in a government-approved hotel and another 7 days in their own home.
As vaccination rates rose this past year, Taiwanese were hoping their government would ease quarantine requirements for the upcoming Lunar New Year with the likes of other Asian nations such as Singapore and Thailand. On the contrary, the Taiwanese government only allowed vaccinated travelers to do part of their quarantine at home to save on accommodation expenses — continuing a strict “zero covid” policy.
Singapore Airlines’ Los Angeles to Tokyo flight — the only other fifth freedom route from Los Angeles — will still continue to operate past the end of the winter schedule. The route was resumed in June 2020.